As we (finally) begin Washington Capitals preseason activities, most eyes will be locked on the Capitals’ high-caliber prospects, such as Hendrix Lapierre, Vincent Iorio, Ludwig Persson and Alexander Suzdalev. There is a good chance that all of them will get at least one preseason game before reporting back to their junior teams at the end of the month.
For me there are also a few other players to keep an eye on, as they have plenty of intrigue and questions remaining regarding their potential. Here are five “other” prospects to keep an eye on during the back half of September.
Clay Stevenson – Stevenson remains a wild card in my book. As I discussed in yesterday’s piece on Simon Motew, Stevenson is looking more and more like the prototypical “late bloomer”, as he demonstrated a sizable uptick in his level of play after going undrafted. Before signing with the Capitals, Stevenson met with both the Capitals and New York Rangers, while also drawing interest from the Vancouver Canucks and Seattle Kraken. He will be an interesting watch. Hopefully the Caps give him a game in the preseason. (2022 Annual Review and Forecast)
Ethan Frank – Frank recorded a goal in five games for Hershey last season. For me, it’s the lack of data that has me intrigued. Many of his scouting reports have him as another late bloomer, surging in his last season at Western Michigan. I really liked what I saw in last season’s small sample size in Hershey, and was impressed by his rocket shot and game sense. Hopefully he gets a couple of preseason games before returning to Hershey.
Martin Hugo Has – “The Boss” has been a fascinating player to track since his draft day. The Capitals quickly presented different challenges for Has in his first year and he met them every step of the way, quickly cycling through Czech teams and eventually ending the season in the OHL. He is not flashy, with low offensive output to date, but his defense was impressive in the dozen or so games I watched last season. The Capitals have yet to assign him to a team for the coming season, as they will use the rookie and training camps to make the final decision. It could be Herhsey, the Czech Republic or Sweden for the 6’-4” right-hander. (2022 Annual Review And Forecast)
Garin Bjorklund – Bjorklund wrapped up a tough 2021-22 season with Medicine Hat going 8-36-2 with a 4.26 goals against average and a .877 save percentage. You might think that’s not very impressive, but that was on a very bad Tigers team. Bjorklund reported to Hershey following the conclusion of Medicine Hat’s season in order for Capitals brass to get a better look. The change in scenery went well for Bjorklund, ultimately signing a three-year entry-level deal with the Capitals on April 29. I’m looking forward to seeing more of him. (2022 Annual Review And Forecast)
Henrik Rybinski – There are still questions regarding Rybinski’s ceiling. He was drafted by the Panthers in 2019 but went unsigned. He then experienced a huge surge after moving from wing to the center position, signed by the Capitals to a three-year entry-level contract for $925,000 AAV on March 1 and ended last season as the Thunderbirds MVP. Hopefully we see him get a preseason game or two. (2022 Annual Review And Forecast)
Capitals rookie camp opens today at MedStar Capitals Iceplex with off-ice activities. Things will get going in earnest on Friday and pick up steam over the weekend before heading into the Capitals main camp, which opens one week from today.
By Jon Sorensen